I don't really cope very well with crowds, and have studiously avoided any cons or expos in the past because of this fear. I managed, by sticking close to a couple of my friends, and when I wasn't feeling quite so overwhelmed I even managed to get a game or too in.
Here I am, deep in thought about the next move to make in Hive. It's a chess like game, but a lot quicker to play, and you don't need a board. I think i've lost everytime! Chess was never really my game, I'm not much one for thinking ahead and planning, i'm more of a leaper and then try and figure out the solutions to any problems that crop up as a result of that. That said, It was an enjoyable game and i'd be happy to play it again.
The publisher of Hive also had another game, Army of Frogs. A similar concept, but for more than two players, and the pieces don't have their own moves.
You can't tell from this picture, but the tiles are frogs, and their backs work as handles for them. Very tactile, and well made. I can see both of these games being popular with primary-age children. The designer spoke to us about setting up tournaments in schools, and boy did I wish this had been around when I was a kid. I was in chess club in primary school, with about 3 or 4 others. It wasn't popular at all!
I was attracted to one stand which was demo-ing a game called Spy or die trying. It's theme was 1960's spying.
I didn't play this, but watched only. I'm quite happy to watch games, and still enjoy myself, but this one didn't grip me at all. I was quite disappointed as I grew up watching Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Get Smart and love the look and feel of that genre. Maybe if you got to know the game and the rules really well it would be faster and more interesting, but there seemed to be too many options which dragged things out.
Another game I attempted to play was Trains. Bought by a friend, and ran as a pick up game with a couple who were sat at a table that my gang appropriated!
Although I really enjoy Ticket To Ride, a train theme isn't the most interesting to me. It was a deck building game, but I think we must have not really understood the rules, as we all got bored of it quite quickly, and didn't finish the game. Possibly one to try again when we understand the rules.
My purchases though were the deluxe Munchin game (£18 new) and star Munchkin (£15 in the bring and buy), and I was very pleased with these. I also bought some pretty new chessex dice to replaced my chipped and cloudy aquerple ones, and a union flag d6, which will be a present.
I'm hoping to play Munchkin on Friday with my gaming group, and since one of my friends got the zombie set, we are planning a space zombie game. Should be fun!
There were a few people cosplaying at the expo, and this year was the first year that they did awards. It's not really the type of a event where you get a lot of people doing it, most are here to game, but this year they had prizes for the first time. Several Doctor Who cosplays, a Deadpool, a Stargate marine, some Star Wars ones and there were a few people who were into LARPing.
Plus Daleks, of course! I managed to get to one seminar, a Q & A session with Matt Leacock, the designer of Pandemic, Forbidden Island etc. He's coming out with a dice version of Pandemic, which sounds intriguing and a Thunderbirds game! I wanted to go to the seminar about women in gaming, but felt overwhelmed by everything on the Saturday and was playing laser tag on the Sunday. Hopefully one of those sessions was recorded and will be made available. The special guest was Chris Barrie, I didn't get to any of his seminars, but apparently he was worth going to.
Now for the things I didn't like about the expo. Whilst the stallholders were more than happy to take my money, again and again the (mostly) young women who were giving out flyers and information about games would give one to each of my male friends and miss me out completely! I'd like to say that this was a one off, but it wasn't. Eventually I told my male companions that this was happening, and got them to watch it in action. They couldn't believe it! Every time I would be missed out.
It was strange, as although the attendees were predominantly male, there were a lot of women there. Some seemed to be there are reluctant partners, or mothers, but there were a fair few who were clearly gamers themselves.
The air-con in the hotel couldn't cope with the amount of people on the Saturday, and neither could the hotel staff. In fact they seemed to be struggling Friday evening. I know that the expo will be at the hotel again next year, but the space the hotel has clearly isn't big enough. I would imagine the step up in price to use the NEC is prohibitive. I for one though would pay a little more for a more comfortable experience. I'm not even going to go into the smell...
I'm sure I will go again, but I would be more prepared next time. I'd probably book myself into a tourney, and would definitely pace myself better. I felt like i was going round and round and round a lot of the time. I would make time to go to the seminars that interested me, and I would try and join in games that people were playing.